Attn: Knuckles: Make this a new annoucement, please.


Old 09-07-02, 01:15 PM
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Exclamation Attn: Knuckles: Make this a new annoucement, please.

The Basics by Joe_F--Read before Posting (08-20-02 until 09-19-09)
Here's some more information that might help with getting "The Basics" out of the way. As was said before by our forum administrators:

***Help Us Help You - Please include as much information as possible***

So on that note ,

1) State Year, make, model, and engine size, body type if applicable to the problem.

2) What the problem is. What conditions it does it under. How often it happens.

3) What attempts have been made to fix the problem, either by you or a mechanic. What parts have been changed? No detail too small.

4) If you have gone to and found some sort of bulletin that shows there is a consistent problem with this particular model/engine. See the car dealer for a printout of the full bulletin. will only give you the titles of them! Also if it's a known recall, contact the manufacturer or the NHTSA at their website.

5) If the vehicle is perhaps under warranty. If not, and it is not that old of a vehicle (or has low mileage) consider contacting the manufacturer and working out a deal for a goodwill warranty. That is, the manufacturer will cover some of the repair and you cover some of the repair. The term "goodwill" means that the manufacturer will offer some help on the problem (financial assistance) to promote "customer goodwill" (the hope that you will buy another car from them.

Service manuals

The best service manuals can be had from the original car makers. Helm services most makes: Other car makers: try your local dealer's parts department or call the manfacturer/visit their website. Well worth the money. You wouldn't want to go to a doctor who didn't have the most recent information on treatment options or who didn't know what part of the body did what. In the same way, you wouldn't want to take a course in school without the textbook! You'd be lost. Same thing with working on a car! But, the bonus is that the book will ALWAYS be good for the vehicle. The college textbooks are outdated after one semester!

Aftermarket professional manuals: Motor, Chilton, Mitchell, Alldata. Go to and find the respective manufacturer's website. Most are sold through distributors or retailers on an order basis, so call around. Good for those that "shadetree" with working on others cars for some extra bucks. Often good coverage and comprehensive. Some material a little daunting for the DIY (and some professionals too! Lol).

Additionally, for about 25 bucks a year per car, offers access to the factory style procedures, diagrams and information. Well worth it in my opinion.

For the beginner, a Chilton or Haynes specific manual on your car is available at most parts stores for about 15 bucks or so. Most public libraries have them too, so polish up your library card and borrow one for free.

An educated DIY person is the best poster.

Mechanical Basics

1) Must have spark, air, and fuel. Without these three you go nowhere.

Causes of no spark: Bad ignition parts, crank sensor, broken timing belt (to test: see if the distributor rotor turns when you crank the engine). If in doubt, start with a full tune-up including all filters to eliminate any possible questionable parts. When the car does run, it will run better with fresh parts.

Causes of no fuel: Bad fuel pump, relay, wiring, as well as clogs in the lines or filters. On cars with electric fuel pumps in the tank, avoid running the vehicle low on fuel. Doing this removes both the lubrication and cooling ability of the pump (the fuel!). Not to mention you will suck up dirt from the tank and cause problems. Not worth it!

Causes of no air: Clogged air intake, air filter, bad air flow meter, carbon in the intake, etc.

Rules of Safety
1) Never smoke while around cars or batteries. The results can be explosive. Literally. Extinguish all sources of flames and sparks. Never be too careful.

2) Always properly support a load when going under a vehicle. Make sure to put it on steady, level ground. A hurt or injured DIY'er is not a happy one.

3) Backup plan: If you have to, don't rush. Plan to hitch a ride with a friend or take public transit/alternate vehicle. Rushing through a job to get stuck the next morning is more expensive than waiting till the next day and doing it right.

4) A clean work shop is a happy one. While sometimes not avoidable, the job is better when you keep the area clean and clutter free. Keep all tools in good shape and use good quality tools. I like Craftsman products (Sears) due to the good warranty and overall good quality and value. Home Depot's Husky line is pretty good too. Snapon, Matco, SK and Proto are among other good professional brands out there, and cost considerably more.

Basics of Maintenance

1) Tuneups and filter changes regularly. Follow your manufacturer's recommendations for oil and fluids to be used. Look at the maintenance schedule and see how your driving fits into the schedule for "severe" or "normal" driving. Many folks do "severe" driving and don't know it!

2) "If you can't remember when, it's time". Good motto. If you can't remember when the last time you did a regular service, it's time now. Can never hurt.

3) Think simple. Most parts are not returnable to a parts store if they are not your problem. So, in that respect, don't go changing expensive parts in lieu of testing or diagnosis. Your wallet will thank you. Think about how the system works. Refer to your manual or the archives of the forum for more help.

4) Belts and hoses should be changed after four years. Prevent a breakdown! (Tow Guy can attest to this, I'm sure!)

Some Words of Wisdom

1) If you can rope, I mean convince , someone to help you, this is welcomed. I almost always do my work with the help of a friend. Two heads are better than one. A helper is also good for moral support and can lend an inevitable ride to the parts store when needed. Lol.

2) Know when you need the right tools. As an example: with A/C work, you need the right tools to do the job right. Ask yourself if the vehicle is worth fixing. Can I replace it for the same amount of money I am spending? Do I like this car? How is the condition of everything else? Am I fixing the A/C when I know the body is rotten and the transmission slips or the engine knocks?

3) If it's too cheap to be had, it's probably a bad used car. How right this often is. Unless you get it for free through a relative (and even at that, trust me on that one ), it still needs work. Every used car is sold because something better is out there. There are good used cars, you just have to find them. Think about your budget, what you want to spend on fixing it, and what your abilities are. A 1000 dollar car that is always out of service and costs you 200 to fix it each time 5 times a year makes the 3000 dollar used car you snuffed not look so bad after all.

4) If in doubt picking up a used car, have a mechanic look at it. Chances are he/she can spot things you can't because they know what to look for. Many mechanics will check good customer's cars for free, others might charge a fee or by the hour for a detailed report.

5) Do I have an alternate plan to fix this? Do I have a ride tomorrow to get to work in case it's not done? While this sounds extreme, the pressures of fixing a car can make headaches and jobs done twice as mentioned above. Have a backup plan to hitch a ride with a coworker or take public transit in case you don't have it working in time. A good night's sleep oftentimes will give you the fresh start to tackle that bolt that won't start or that wire you couldn't figure out. Rome wasn't built in a day.

6) Charging system basics. A digital meter is very handy here. In short, a fully charged modern battery should have 12 to 12.5 volts to start. 14.2 when the engine is running with no acessories. Slowly add accessories (lights, blower, A/C, radio, wipers, etc). Watch the meter. With full load, if you get below 13.5 on the meter, the alternator is likely worn out.

More information to come from the vast experience that gets posted in the forum or through diligent reading!

Good luck!

Joe F. - ASE Certified Parts Specialist

Automotive Moderator -

Personal Homepage:

-Check my post "The Basics"
which can be found at:
The Basics by Joe_F
for help on many basic questions and automotive topics. Chances are I have answered it before .

-Please do not e-mail me your questions. I will not reply personally. All questions answered here for expedience and so everyone benefits .

-Always post year, make, model, transmission type, engine size along with other vehicle details as well as a comprehensive description of the problem. In addition, include what repair attempts/parts have been made at the problem. Bottom line: No detail is too small. See the top of the forum page for more posting guidelines/details. This helps us help you . Please keep all posts together on the same vehicle/problem by using your REPLY button for continuity and expedience.

-It is appreciated if you'd post back the results of your problem, our solution and what fixed the issue. Everyone learns more this way

-For information on how to read and interpret your trouble codes (if applicable), check out Knuckles & 0Patience's website at

-Try this link for service manual information. (You may have to cut and paste it to your browser's window):

-Service information can also be purchased at

Note: The best, most comprehensive, and recommended manual is the OEM factory service manual.

-Go to the following URL for phone numbers and OE contact information regarding how to order them (as well as owner's manuals and service tools):

-Always check for relevant Technical Service Bulletin titles that might apply to your problem.

-Safety first! When in doubt, always consult the appropriate service manual. Always disconnect the battery before working on the electrical system. Wear the appropriate eye, ear and skin protection to avoid injuries. Extinguish and keep away all sources of sparks and flames and vapors while working on motor is no accident!

Last edited by Joe_F on 02-03-02 at 09:33 AM
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Old 09-07-02, 09:10 PM
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Arrow done

You can do it too! Simply scroll to the bottom of the page & click on the "Admin Options" menu. Select "view posts que". This will bring up a page that shows posts in que. At the left of your scree will be a menu that allows you to add/remove/edit Announcements. Click on it & go from there.
Old 09-08-02, 07:56 AM
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Thanks, will do.

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